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Muslim Brotherhood in Qatar

Qatar's Sheikh Hamad became the biggest backer of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups in the region. Qatar made itself very unpopular in Egypt and elsewhere by backing the Brotherhood. Qatar gave strong support to the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the Arab Spring. Qatar stood aside as other Gulf states rivals, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, stepped in with billions in aid for post-Morsi Egypt. Weeks earlier, the Syrian National Coalition vote for president became something of a proxy showdown between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Ahmad Assi Jarba, Saudi Arabia’s favorite, defeated Qatar’s favorite, Mustafa al-Sabbagh.

As a formal organization, the Muslim Brotherhood in Qatar dissolved itself in 1999. As a movement the Brotherhood is not active in Qatari domestic affairs. The arrangement is akin to the one between Qatar and Al Jazeera [frequently accused of being sympathetic to the Brotherhood], the biggest Arab television channel, which is based in Doha. Al Jazeera covers news throughout the Arab world, but sensibly refrains from covering controversial events in Qatar. Ahmed Mansour, a Cairo-based Egyptian, is among Al Jazeera's most senior and most prominent and well-established personalities. Mansour's "Without Limits" (a one-on-one interview show) is known for favoring "Islamist" pro-Muslim Brotherhood guests on his show.

On reports that Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood to rule in Egypt, and the negative impact of that on Qatar's relations with some of the Gulf States, HE the Premier and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said 19 September 2012 that Qatar has no problem with anyone, as it maintains balanced relationships with all parties, and this does not affect the relationship with Gulf States. He added that Qatar openly announced that it supports peoples freedom to choose who rule them through elections. Regarding rumors about support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he reiterated that Qatar maintains balanced relationships with all parties, and that its stance in supporting any cause is not undisclosed, adding that it is rather very clear. I do not think that any GCC country does not respect Qatar's opinion on major causes, and likewise, Qatar respects theirs, said HE the Premier.

On accusations that Qatar was supporting one political faction in Egypt over another, HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister said 26 March 2013 that Qatar was supportive of change in Egypt and Tunisia long before the Muslim Brotherhood took over. His Excellency added that Qatar began helping Egypt during the reign of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces right after the revolution, the same case was with Tunisia as Qatar supported them when Al Sabsi was the Prime Minister. His Excellency the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister added that Qatar respected both the ruling party and opposition in Egypt. His Excellency said that a lot of money was pumped into Egyptian media to turn the public against Qatar.

On 16 April 2013, asked about Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said Doha supports the popular will of each country as the Brotherhood won elections in Tunisia and Egypt. "We deal with governments and not individuals or groups. This rumor emerged in some neighboring countries." HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim added that there are a lot of rumors, but insisted that it is actions that matter. "We know what we are doing. We only support the popular will and never interfere in the affairs of other countries or who rules them. We did not bring the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or else where and we started to support Egypt before they came to power," HE the premier said, adding that HH the Emir, HH the Heir Apparent and he himself all visited Cairo before the Brotherhood ruled the country.

On 25 June 2013, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad, who had just turned 33 years old, officially took power from his father, and soon appeared to begin walking back the pro-Brotherhood stance. The State of Qatar "will remain supportive of the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt as a leader and a pioneer in the Arab and Islamic world", an official source at the Foreign Ministry said 04 July 2013. In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), the source said the policy of the State of Qatar policy has always been with the will of the brotherly Egyptian people and their options for achieving their aspirations towards democracy and social justice, saying that was clear in its backing of the January 25 Revolution and in supporting Egypt during the difficult stages that followed the revolution.

Qatar will continue to respect the will of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Egyptian people with all its components, the source added. The source praised the role of the Egyptian Armed Forces in defending Egypt and its national security, stressing the need to enhance the national cohesion among all brotherly Egyptian people to favor their interests and will in accordance with the constants and gains of the glorious revolution of 25 of January so that its objectives would be achieved. The State of Qatar confirmed that it will maintain its excellent fraternal relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt and will work to developing and strengthening them with a view to serving the interests of the two brotherly countries and their peoples.

Qatar's foreign minister said 19 August 2013 that Qatar had never given aid to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but that all assistance went to Egypt as a whole. "As far as Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, there are some wrong impressions about the aid Qatar is providing," said Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya, whose country is perceived as a backer of the embattled Islamist group. "Qatar has never given aid to an Egyptian group or an Egyptian political party. The aid has always been provided to Egypt," he told journalists after meeting French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

On September 13, 2014 Qatar asked several senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to leave the country, after their presence strained relations with its neighbors. The announcement of their departure came from the leaders themselves, with senior Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag saying he was leaving Qatar to avoid causing any embarrassment to the country. He said the government of Qatar asked him and several of his colleagues to leave the country. Qatar had been seen as a haven for the Muslim Brotherhood after its ouster from Egypt following the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Qatar's acceptance of Brotherhood members has angered its neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt. All three of those countries had pulled their envoys out of Qatar.

In Januay 2015 Qatar deported Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal after hosting him for the past three years. Qatar had faced significant pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to deport Mashaal, amid a diplomatic reconciliation process currently underway between the small Gulf state and the Arab world. Mashaal and other Muslim Brotherhood members were most likely to head to Turkey.

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Page last modified: 07-01-2015 18:43:33 ZULU